Fire Threatens Former Press Building

By WBNG News

December 22, 2010 Updated Dec 23, 2010 at 1:09 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) - The Midtown Mall was the most severely damaged building downtown, but nearby businesses are also feeling the heat.

Action News reporter Natalie Jenereski caught up with local business owners who are trying to protect their own buildings from destruction.

"I feel sick to my stomach," said Suzanne Myette, an employee in the Professional Towers.

Suzanne Myette reacts after seeing what's left of her office in the professional towers.

"I wanted to cry when I saw my office, I'm devastated. I'm just shocked. I didn't expect to see it like that," said Myette.

The newly renovated building is right next to the Midtown Mall, which was nearly destroyed by a massive fire.

The structure sustained minor fire, smoke, and water damage, but it's just enough to completely shut the building down.

"I just expected to see a little water damage but most of the office is completely gutted. The tiles were all down from the ceiling, there was water everywhere, we just opened a couple months ago, brand new everything, it's just completely destroyed," said Myette.

The former Press Building was built in 1904.

It underwent extensive renovation and re-opened just 2 and a half years ago.

"I've been there 6 months, so my spot is brand new. It's all brand new construction," said Pat Johnson, owner of the Gentleman's Barber on the ground floor of the Professional Tower.

The update included exterior work, redesign of the main entrance, creation of a new lobby, and remodeling of four upper floors.

"It's a total loss it looks like. The water is still coming down on my retail product, all my barber chairs. Everything is just sopping," said Johnson.

The owner of the building says he was in the middle of negotiating a lease.

Now, all deals have been put on hold.

In Binghamton, Natalie Jenereski, WBNG-TV Action News.

The owner of the building, Mark Yonaty, says the damage to the building is still being assessed.

He assures employees and consumers they are working as hard as possible to get things turned around.